Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 At A Glance More Or Less

We come to the end of another year.  As I age I find it important to look at the year that we are saying good-by to and try and lean something to take into the New Year.  Now that I am retired with a little more free time it has moved up on my list of things to do.  2017 was a great year and I am excited about the adventures that await me in 2018.  

January I was in Covington GA at Riverside Campground on the Yellow River.  I got home one evening and found the river was out of its bank and just about to flood the area I was parked.  Needless to say it was time to relocate, management had left a note with a new site number if I wanted to move.  Needless to say I hooked up and relocated while several campers around me decided to wait and see, this was around 10pm.  The next morning I saw that the water continued to rise and all had moved out of the area, the wait and see did not work for them.  I was also in this campground Christmas 2015 and had to evacuate on Christmas Eve and park in the local Walmart parking lot with the Conyers Sheriff’s Department due to the river flooding the campground.

Riverside Campground Covington GA January 2017

Riverside Campground Covington GA December 2015

I started out in January planning to visit Alaska again and making preparation for the trip.  Nothing really big just looking at routes and places to visit on my second trip to Alaska.  I ordered a pressure canner and vacuum sealer getting ready for all them salmon I was going to catch.  I went on to install an auxiliary fuel tank that add 63 gallons of fuel to capacity.  I did not get to can any salmon but I had a great time canning chili, venison, fish stew, and a list of other items.  I have to thank my friends Linda and Mike in Bonners Ferry for the tips and secrets of canning they shared with me…

In March I found myself in SC spending time with my brother Jimmie camping on Lake Marion in Rimini SC.  When in Rimini with Jimmie our sister Estelle spend a day with us.  I got to spend time with Michael and his family where Bryce picked me some fresh strawberries.  I took the strawberries and made my first jam.  The jam turned out a bit more like syrup but a remake and it turned out good.
Somehow in March doing more research on the Alaska trip I got side tracked and started looking at campground host positions.  I started looking in Alaska and then next thing I know I looking at a campground in Idaho.  After a few calls and emails I was offered the position at Robinson Lake as Camp Host in Bonners Ferry Idaho. 

Sunset Rimini, SC  Elliotts Campground

I committed to being in Idaho at Robinson Lake in early May.  During my winter maintenance and waxing I found several issues that needed to corrected under warranty before I left for Idaho.  I had been using The Amish Family RV Repair Center in Indiana for all my camper repairs.  The only appointment I could get was early April so end of March I am on the road to Indiana for repairs.  The best part about the repair shop is it is close to Christina (my daughter) and I would get to spend a few days with them as repairs were being made.

Robinson Lake Campground Bonners Ferry ID

Robinson Lake Campground Bonners Ferry ID

Robinson Lake Campground Bonners Ferry ID

Repairs were made with a few minor setbacks and a little rework but in the end all worked out.  The trip across country was a pleasant trip with no issues.  The auxiliary tank made the trip a lot less hectic now I have a fuel range of 500+ miles in lieu of the 200 miles with the original tank.
I arrived at Robinson Lake early May and stayed until the middle of September.  I had a great time met a lot of interesting people from as far away as Germany and as close as a local neighbor that lived across the road from the campground and everywhere in between.  By the end of the summer I was feeling burn out and ready to move on but as soon as I was gone I could not wait to return to Bonners Ferry area.  I left Bonners Ferry with plans to return next year for May and June as the camp host.

What would be a couple of the top memories of Robinson Lake….The peace, tranquility and beauty of Northern Idaho and all the great people I met and made friends with.  One things that stands out is when my Larry from Bonners Ferry took the time to bring his clippers to the campground and give me a haircut.  Thanks Larry…

Needless to say I am heading back to Robinson Lake for the summer of 2018.  Alaska will be there if I decide to make a second trip.  I have decided to spend the summer at Robinson Lake May-September again in 2018.

Leaving Bonners Ferry Idaho in mid-September I headed south to visit the Hells Canyon area of Idaho and was not disappointed.  I camped on Salmon River and toured the area around White Bird ID including a remote section of the Snake River.

Hells Canyon Idaho,  Snake River

Hells Canyon Idaho
Salmon River, White Bird ID

Hammer Creek BLM Campground White Bird ID

From Hells Canyon I continue through Idaho and entered Yellowstone National Park.  I entered Yellowstone National Park at West Yellowstone, MT drove through the park to Gardiner, MT.  I stayed in Gardiner for several days and toured thru the Park.  It was a great adventure and I hope to return and spend more time in the park.  The park had a lot of visitors but at this time of the year it was not crowded a very enjoyable visit.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

From Yellowstone National Park I headed east and visited The Bad Lands in SD and Mount Rushmore.  Time to head south it is starting to get cold in the northern areas…
I got to visit with Christina, Joel, and Hannah for a couple of weeks as I stopped off in Michigan on my track south.  Hannah and I got to spend one afternoon at David and Busters for lunch and games it was a great day.

Badlands SD

Badlands SD

Badlands SD

Middle of October I am back in Rimini SC visiting with my brother Jimmie in time for the Brinson Family Reunion in Macedonia SC.  The first family reunion I have been able to attend in years and it was great to reconnect with family.  After the Brinson Reunion we decided to have a reunion of our own.  Believe it or not most showed and we made a day of slow cooked pork and the fixings.

Jimmie, Andy, Connie, Estelle

After leaving Rimini I headed to Ridgeville to spend time with my son and his family (Michael, Karen, Bryce, and Brinkley).  I spent November and December hanging out with Bryce and Brinkley.  I also had time to visit friends and family in the area.   It is harvest time at Hickory Bluff Farms run by Karen and her parents so I got to help out with the cauliflower, broccoli, and collard harvest.  It was great to spend Christmas here in Ridgeville with friends and family.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Trail Center of Charleston Review

Friends (Walter and Kathy) purchased a Jayco Fifth Wheel from The Trail Center in North Charleston SC.  They had owned a camper in the past but it was quite some time ago and they never really got into camping.  So to say the least Walter and I have had several conversations about my life on the road and living in my camper.  As the time approached the big pick up date of their camper Walter asked if I would like to ride with him when pick it up.  Like all RVers’ I told him if he really wanted me to I would go…but the truth was I was delighted to go.  Always fun looking at different campers specially a friend’s camper.

The Trail Center is a small family owned full service RV center.  It was originally started in 1966 and in 1973 the current owner Gloria Morgan started working with them as the bookkeeper and when on to purchase the business in 1993.  I purchased my first camper a 27 foot Salem travel trailer from them about that same year.  The service at that time was great and you will see in my review below that nothing has changed.

We arrived at the Trail Center off Dorchester Rd in North Charleston around 10:00 am and was greeted by Jay Morgan the sales manager.  Walter and Jay proceed into the office to complete the paperwork on the camper.  I started wandering around in the show room finding things to purchase that I did know I needed until they jumped out at me.  The show room was well stocked and laid out in an orderly and neat arrangement.   I have visited a lot of RV Centers from the big mega stores to the little hole in the wall stores.  In my opinion the Trail Center has all the convenience and selections of the mega stores with the small family owned atmosphere. 

As I was finishing my browsing/shopping I joined Walter and Jay in the lot as they were starting the walk thru of the camper.  They had started at the front where Walter had them change the standard 5th wheel hitch out for a goose neck type that he currently has in his truck for farm use.  The installation looked like it had come from the factory with it installed.  We then continued around the entire outside to include the operations of the slides, auto leveling system, and water management.  After a very detailed tour of the exterior we went inside and again Jay covered all the components and systems and answered all our questions.  This was probably one of the most detailed and informative walk thru I have been a part of, and I have purchased several campers of the years.

Over all I give the Trail Center and Jay an outstanding rating based my taking the walk thru with Walter and shopping in their show room.  The entire staff at The Trail Center was very professional and friendly.  It was a very delightful experience to join Walter on the walk thru of his camper and dealing with the staff at The Trail Center.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Badlands National Park South Dakota

The Badlands National Park in South Dakota is one of those places you have to see to understand the name "Badlands".  The first time I visited the park I had no idea of the beauty of the park.  I have tried to capture it with my camera but nothing can take the place of being there.

Why is it called the Badlands?

The Lakota people were the first to call this place "mako sica" or "land bad." Extreme temperatures, lack of water, and the exposed rugged terrain led to this name. In the early 1900's, French-Canadian fur trappers called it "les mauvais terres pour traverse," or "bad lands to travel through."

Today, the term badlands has a more geologic definition. Badlands form when soft sedimentary rock is extensively eroded in a dry climate. The park's typical scenery of sharp spires, gullies, and ridges is a premier example of badlands topography.

Thursday, October 12, 2017